Caring for newborn kittens is an equally exciting and rewarding experience. If something happens to the mother cat or they abandon their kittens, you may need to start hand-rearing them. This can be a time-consuming task, as kittens require milk through all hours of the day and night. A lot of effort and dedication goes into successfully hand-rearing kittens, and since they are so small and fragile, they may not always make it. Bottle feeding is the most important part of successfully hand-rearing kittens till their weaning stage. This article will provide you with tips and tricks and plenty of information when it comes to bottle-feeding and caring for young kittens.
When Should You Hand Raise Kittens?
- Note: If you find feral kittens that seem to be abandoned, it is best to wait a few hours to check if the mother comes back to nurse them. The mother cat will venture away from her kittens to find additional food and water for herself, so her kittens will be left alone. Check if they are plump and warm or call the right authorities to help capture and treat the mother and kittens.
How Do You Bottle Feed Kittens?
There is no skill required to successfully bottle-feed kittens, you will just need to have the determination and time to care for a demanding creature. This means sacrificing sleep and other duties around the house, to ensure that the kitten’s needs are met.
The formula should be heated by placing the container in a sink or bowl filled with hot water. The formula should be warmed before feeding it to the kittens, as kittens will typically refuse cold formula. Keep in mind that the mother’s milk is naturally warm, so your kitten will expect the milk replacement to be the same temperature. Test a few drops of the formula on your wrist to ensure that the temperature is correct. The drops should be warm and comfortable on your wrist, without being too hot or cool.
6 Tips for Safely Bottle-Feeding Kittens
Milk Replacement Recipe for Kittens
A homemade kitten milk replacement should only be used for a maximum of 24-hours until you can get a high-quality milk replacement powder from your local veterinarian shop. Petlac Kitten Milk Replacement Powder is a good option for kittens. Not only is it easy for kittens to digest, but it is easy for you to prepare. Mix one tablespoon of the powder with two tablespoons of warm water. This will make approximately 3 tablespoons (1,18 ounces) which can last a small kitten one day. It is best to use boiled water that has been cooled, to keep the formula sterile.
How Much Should You Feed Kittens?
Young kittens should be fed two tablespoons (1 ounce) of milk replacer per day if they weigh between 3 to 4 ounces within 24 hours. Avoid overfeeding the kitten as it can cause them to become bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable. A feeding guideline should be on the back of the milk replacement formulas packaging which will give you a general indication of how much the kitten should eat per its body weight. It is recommended to weigh the kitten every three days so that you can determine how much formula to feed them. This will also give you an indication as to how much they are growing so that you can accommodate their feeding requirements.
How Often Must You Feed Kittens?
Kittens that are less than two weeks old should be fed every 2 to 3 hours. This includes during the night. You will have to get up during the night and sacrifice sleep to feed your kitten, however, with the advice from your kitten’s veterinarian, you can feed kittens less at night if they have been at an ideal weight. Kittens between two to four weeks of age should be fed every 3 to 4 hours on average. They will get used to reduced nightly feedings but should still be fed according to a 24-hour schedule. After four weeks of age, kittens should be fed every 4 to 5 hours. They may begin to sleep better during the night without crying for milk every couple of hours. Once the kitten reaches eight weeks of age, they should be slowly weaned from the milk replacement and introduced to a wet food diet suitable for kittens.
Raising kittens is often a delicate task that requires help and encouragement from others. It is recommended to always have a backup plan in the case that you are not with the kitten for a prolonged period. The person helping you will then be able to step in and bottle feed your kitten while ensuring that they are warm and comforted. Always work closely with a veterinarian or professional when hand-rearing kittens, as they know what’s best.
Featured Image Credit: Adina Voicu, Pixabay